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Tim Broadbent

TIM BROADBENT, Global Effectiveness Director, Ogilvy & Mather

“A gentleman with an enormous brain” (Miles Young, Ogilvy)

Tim Broadbent passed away on the 7th July in Singapore.

Tim was the undisputed King of Communications Effectiveness, and the only planner (so far) to have won the IPA Grand Prix twice, not to mention the numerous other Gold, Silver and Bronze winning papers on cases and brands all over the world that also bear his name, as well as his profound influence and guidance.

Tim was the convenor of the IPA Awards judges in 2000, and as editor dedicated the weighty Adworks Volume 11 of that year to his father Simon Broadbent with the words “Il miglor fabbro” – The Finer Craftsman. For it was Simon who first conceived of this new kind of advertising competition (often copied, but, as yet, never matched for its rigour, discipline, innovation, integrity and standards). At this time (the seventies) some academics were claiming that it was intellectually impossible to prove that advertising works – to separate it from the mix of influences such as price, competitive activity, merchandising and so on – tantamount to admitting that it doesn’t work. “The objective was to create a collection of published case histories to show that research, properly used, could isolate what advertising had contributed over and above the other elements in the marketing mix, and that advertising was a contributor to profit, not just a cost. (Simon) Broadbent was thus setting himself in opposition, both to industry colleagues who said it was ‘nonsense’ to believe ad effects could be isolated, and also to sections of the business community that believed advertising was bunk”.

Simon Broadbent was right and his son took on that mantle with understandable pride and ambition and was still carrying it 40 years later. How to pay tribute to a man who has had such a pivotal and lasting influence on not just the culture of advertising effectiveness in the UK but also globally? As in the movie, Wayne’s World, I am not worthy, so I figured it would an idea to go for a quantitative as well as a qualitative tribute to the great man. So I invited a long list of his peer group planners and researchers to talk about how Tim has influenced them, their lives and their careers.

“It was always a joy to be in Tim’s company, whose charm was infectious. His voice induced an air of calm and his erudition the desire to listen. It saddens me to not have been more in the vicinity to take up the offer of dinner and drinks on some envisaged Asian veranda at sunset. He is sorely missed.” Charlie Robertson, Red Spider

"In truth, I didn’t know Tim well, but I knew his reputation and his output. We bumped into each other infrequently and to tell you the truth I was a bit intimated by him. I just thought he was so clever and knew so much about advertising. Like his father, he was a legend who left a great legacy of learning to our industry .” Wendy Gordon, Acacia Avenue

"He had a hard act to follow with his father [Simon] who was a brilliant and much respected man. But he did so very effectively, by being his own man and his own personality. He was a great bon viveur and a great contrarian. I loved the way he always spoke up for Rosser Reeves as the greatest adman, even though there are very few people who would agree with him.” Paul Feldwick, Stanley Pollitt graduate trainee, consultant and author

“I didn’t know Tim at all well but he was always scarily intelligent, thorough and fearless. I often thought how proud his father would have been of his contribution to IPA Effectiveness.” Paul Edwards, IPA Social Works Committee

“Tim was a brilliant and incisive thinker, who quickly saw through to the root of whatever problem he was working on. But more importantly, he was just a really lovely bloke. Charming and witty, with a wicked sense of humour, he was extraordinarily good company. He will be sorely missed.” Les Binet, Adam&EveDDB

"Tim did more than anyone else to redefine David Ogilvy’s “We Sell, Or Else” ethos for a new age. He insisted on facts, standards and skills, and so left his mark on a whole generation across the world. He was both a rebel and a leader, by turns, steely and hilarious. There was no better companion at the meeting table or the dinner table. Tim leaves a big gap in our agency and in our hearts.” Colin Mitchell, Ogilvy NYC

“I was lucky enough to have worked for Tim at Y&R, and then to have proudly been able to initiate his move to Ogilvy a decade later. I remain in awe of his ruthless logic, and his ability to express it in writing. (Particularly since, as he once told me, he never started writing on less than a bottle of claret.) The thing I especially loved about Tim though was that he was totally effective without ever taking things too seriously. In one major pitch at Y&R I produced a ‘bald cap’ from my pocket and wore it for a few minutes to make me look more intelligent and Tim-like. Many bosses would have taken umbrage, but I can still hear Tim’s spectacularly loud laugh pealing round the room. And of course we won, thanks to his brilliant mind.” John Shaw, Brand Union

“I had worked with Tim for a couple of years when I was a graduate trainee at BMP, and always found him generous and supportive, as well as wise. And then, 20 years later, I went on a family holiday to China and found out Tim was there. He and Kathy were instantly warm and generous with their advice, time and company. I can still hear his delighted laughter in the best duck restaurant in Beijing (his firm and brilliant recommendation) as he regaled us with the ins and outs of living in that city. A great talent and a great character, and a very sad loss.” Adam Morgan, Eatbigfish

"I only really crossed paths briefly with Tim, in the late '90s. By then, of course, I'd read his IPA Effectiveness entries and been dazzled by his thinking (years later, at an IPA event to choose the best paper ever written, I argued the case for his BMW Grand Prix winner - somewhat less successfully than the great man himself, it has to be admitted). Anyway, I was surprised to find, after my admiration from afar, that this colossus of the planning world was actually a very modest, funny chap. I doubt that many - if any - planners haven't been influenced by him in some way or other, whether they realise it or not." Andy Nairn, Lucky Generals

“Tim was one of those people you just knew was smarter than you. But he was smart enough to wear it lightly and sweet enough never to make you feel it. I was lucky enough to share the Convener of the IPA Effectiveness role with him and I learned as much from him as the papers we read. Tim brought chutzpah and creativity to the science and discipline of effectiveness. In my speeches on measuring advertising effect I still always name check Tim and his BMW paper as one of the great examples of 'find your control' in the BMW case 'UK vs rest of Europe'. And he loved Jeeves and Wooster. Top skills -what ho Tim!!!!! .” Nick Kendall, Bro-Ken

“Tim both inspired me and terrified me in equal measure. He was incredibly clever and could make connections so quickly that he often left the rest of us feeling rather inadequate. I was in awe of his ability to look at reams of data and produce a simple, elegant and inspiring insight. He always had time to talk and explain and I learned a lot from him. He had a coruscating wit that could sear you to the bone but he was never anything other than charm personified.. And of course his knowledge of some of the finer lunch establishments was also legendary. An amazing talent and a lovely man who made a big impact and will be sorely missed.” Ali Bucknall, Planning Consultant

“I was hugely sad to learn of Tim’s death - we exchanged a number of emails during his treatment, in which he demonstrated his customary calmness and determination. His intellectual credentials are well known, but what also marked him out in the modern agency world was his kindness and humanity: he was a gentleman. He will not be forgotten.” Peter Field, consultant

"Tim Broadbent, just like his late father, the effectiveness pioneer, Simon, was a thought leader in the fields of strategy and communications effectiveness. His ability to make all things complicated seem simple and achievable was inspiring. He had helped transform Ogilvy into the most awarded effectiveness agency in Asia and globally, he had begun a transformation, from which Ogilvy will bear the fruits for many years to come." Gurdeep Puri, The Effectiveness Partnership

“What dreadfully sad news. I so loved working with Tim. He was such a lovely man and huge fun to be with, as well as being immensely clever, but unassuming with it. A rare combination.” Marilyn Baxter, Former Chair IPA Value of Advertising Group

“Tim leaves a big hole in our little world of advertising. For me, as for many others, his crusade to demonstrate creativity's commercial worth was a huge inspiration, especially early on in my career. His elegant, clear arguments and proofs were a constant challenge for me to write and speak more clearly and not to rely on technique or technology; and his sense of mischief was a reminder that even heavy debates about advertising were just debates within the little world of advertising. In my experience, he was unfailingly generous and kind, both on a personal level and a professional one; whether or not he agreed with my thinking, I always felt he took it seriously. Let's raise a glass of red in his direction!” Mark Earls, The Herdmeister

“I never had the good fortune to work with Tim and so only knew him by his prodigious reputation and occasional social meetings. Brilliance certainly ran in the Broadbent family as I knew his father Simon very well and Tim inherited both the fascination with how advertising works and the ability to express it clearly and succinctly. Several of his pieces appeared in Market Leader and he made a great contribution to the intellectual status of the advertising world. Added to which, exuberance and enthusiasm were the delightful characteristics I recall from my limited social encounters.” Judie Lannon, Editor, Market Leader

“Tim was a fine gent, with an amazing big brain and huge appetite for life. Working and playing with him was always full of fun and excitement. I found him to be wise and extremely generous. He had a wicked sense of humour, helping me always see the funny side of everything. He gave me the freedom not to beat myself up so much, making clear that whatever happens to you in life, it is often more about what others are dealing with, than something you have or have not done. For this I will always be grateful, Truly wise, brilliantly clever, a kind man.” Vanella Jackson, Hall & Partners

“I didn’t know Tim well, but he was pretty much unforgettable. Gruff voice, mild manner, fierce intellect.He seemed to know pretty much everything there was to know about effectiveness. And he was generous in passing on his wisdom and wit.” Lucy Jameson, Grey London

“I first got to know Tim when he offered me a job at Y&R in 1984. I accepted it with alacrity, because I knew both my planning skills and my bank balance would grow significantly under him. However, I then promptly turned said job down when Saatchi’s made a counter offer that involved a pioneering move to New York to work on British Airways. Subsequently as a planning head myself, I realised what a bugger that betrayal must have been, but Tim was never anything other than charming and supportive. Not only did we have some wonderful, stimulating (over stimulated?) lunches over the years, he even shipped me out to Beijing, Singapore and Hong Kong not long ago to do Quant Skills training for his Ogilvy Asia planners. As if I could have taught them anything he had not taught them already. We will miss you Tim, professionally and personally, and our industry is truly indebted to the standard raising legacy of the Broadbents.” Merry Baskin, Baskin Shark

Tim’s classic (and essential reading) IPA Grand Prix winning papers can be accessed via either the IPA Advertising works volumes 10 and 5, or you can download them from WARC (along with most of his and his father’s writings). If you do not have a subscription, you can get a free trial. Read and learn from the masters.

Institute of Practitioners in Advertising: Grand Prix, IPA Effectiveness Awards, 1994 : BMW: How 15 Years of Consistent Advertising Helped BMW Treble Sales Without Losing Prestige

Institute of Practitioners in Advertising: Grand Prix, IPA Effectiveness Awards, 1982: The John Smith’s bitter - 'Big John' Campaign: Advertising in the Beer Market

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